One Room Challenge - Outdoor Space Makeover

If you're visiting for the first time, welcome! So happy you're here. And, for those who might be new to the One Room Challenge, get ready for some fun! By linking up with the ORC, I'll be updating one room over the course of six Thursdays, documenting my progress (and challenges and surprises and such) each week. Check out the other participants here.

And, let's jump right into the fun stuff of decorating… 

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The "room" I'm tackling during these six short weeks will be our deck and the small yard beyond. This area has been mostly neglected for the nearly five years we've been in our house, and I'm counting on the ORC to keep me accountable! I'm determined to create a much more welcoming and usable space this year. (Here and here are some of my initial thoughts about the plan for this area.)

I'm not very excited about sharing these 'before' photos, but please please believe with me that the pictures will get easier on the eyes as the weeks progress! Above is the view from the yard, looking at the back of our house and the deck. This is after we cleaned the deck a few weeks ago, and before the wood sealer was applied. Believe it or not, the deck is made from redwood! It was much redder when we first moved in, but the intense sun has faded it and all but bleached out any trace of red. I have to admit, although we should have protected it long ago, I'm not sad to lose the red! Part of the reason for the delay was that I couldn't find the right stain (a few years ago) to help minimize the red…well, now the sun has taken care of that for me! :)

On a hot day last week, I sealed up that wood and it already looks soooooo much healthier and happier!

At the back of the yard is this retaining wall/flowerbed and the lovely, old fence behind it. The retaining wall is one of the best projects we completed during our first year in the house. (I say "we," although I actually had very little to do with it! ;)) My husband and a wonderful friend spent many, many hours leveling out our yard and then building the wall to provide some definition along the back of the yard. We've added plants over time, and have learned that succulents are basically the only type of plant to thrive in the sauna that is our yard. For the most part, I've embraced this and continue to add more and more of them, although I have an idea or two for other types of plants and am hoping to make it work! (Stay tuned for more about this in later weeks.)

So, back to the fence... I toyed around with tons of ideas of ways to camouflage that thing in all its rickety, mossy glory. I knew that no matter how much we prettify the deck and yard, this would be an eyesore that would significantly detract from any progress. This is illustrated in both of the photos above… these plants deserve a beautiful backdrop! After considering all sorts of possible solutions, I decided painting was at least worth a try, even if I wasn't extremely optimistic it would be sufficient. I was pretty sure I wanted to go dark, but grabbed several sample pots from the basement just to be sure about the options first. My top pick isn't shown in the above photo, but after seeing these swatches up, my husband I both agreed black was the way to go.

One of the most exciting parts of this deck makeover is that our house's exterior is getting a facelift as well! The style of our house is Italianate (similar to a Victorian), and it's currently painted in several different colors to highlight the various molding and details. Most of the color is found on the front of the house, but you can see two shades of blue here. I LOVE our house, but wouldn't have chosen these colors and have looked forward to the day when I would get to select new ones. If you've been reading for awhile, you know that I love the look of painting trim the same color as the walls, in interiors, and I'm excited to do the same here on the exterior. To me, it brings an unexpected, more modern feel to traditional molding.I've done this through much of our house (you can see some examples here). Above you see my test swatches for the exterior. (It's kind of hard to see the difference, but the bottom white is creamier, less white.) My first choice for the house's exterior was actually black, but it just wasn't practical with the intensity of the sun we get back here. It would have faded so quickly! I may still do the front of the house black, down the road -- it gets much less direct sunlight! Given that many of my inspiration images are bathed in white, I'm really excited about a creamy white blank slate. I used bright white walls throughout most of our house, and thought it would be fun to do something just a little different here. Rather than a crisp/stark look, it will be a little hazy, lazy, dreamy. Although I'm bound to bring in color, I'm feeling so inspired by a much more muted color palette and really hoping to carry this through, at least somewhat. 

Here you see a typical day in the life of our deck, up until now. We have a few random chairs and a whole bunch of random potted plants. None of which are very thoughtfully placed, let alone styled. One of the things I've struggled with on this deck is that it's pretty good-sized, and I haven't had the right furniture/items to really define separate spaces (which it needs). I've moved the grill around a ton, trying to find the right spot for it. We drag the white chairs around often, for optimum sun exposure. I'd like for everything to feel a bit more permanent. I'm sorry that I don't have a photo showing the entire deck, which is L-shaped (next week I'll show better pictures of this)!!

Once the main building blocks start to become more real, my decorating drive always kicks in and I want to dive into the phase of collecting and styling. While out thrifting a couple of weeks ago, I spotted two cute end tables that I knew would work. I need some tables/surfaces to break things up! What I haven't mentioned is that this is going to be a super budget project! I plan to find most of the furnishings at thrift stores or Craigslist, and will rely on some good ol' elbow grease as necessary. A few fun accessories and wall decor have already been snatched up and I'm getting so excited about how pieces are fitting together!

And, I'll leave you with a sneaky spoiler photo of the back fence painted black! Just a little taste of the good stuff to come. I really hope you'll be back! :) (I'll very likely be posting more frequent updates on instagram and would love to see you there as well!)